Breaking: London orchestra in turmoil as chief executive quits

Breaking: London orchestra in turmoil as chief executive quits


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2019

It has just been announced that the Philharmonia’s managing director Helen Sprott is stepping down after just over two years in the job.

Helen was hired from the Arts Council, where she had been responsible for funding orchestras.

No-one is saying why she has gone so fast, but clearly things are not going well.

She said: ‘The Philharmonia is an extraordinary orchestra, and it has been a privilege to lead, to champion its wonderful players, to work with outstanding conductors, and to create the Philharmonia’s artistic programme. But after two all-consuming years, I have made the difficult decision to pursue other professional and personal objectives. With future seasons planned, a full schedule and strong audience figures, the time is right to hand on this important responsibility.’

The orchestra is also in the hunt for a music director to succeed E-P Salonen.

It is in a bit of trouble.


  • Inversio Cancrizans says:

    The loss is entirely The Philharmonia’s, not the other way around.
    It so sad this orchestra continually underperforms in so many areas of its operation.

  • Doug says:

    She she’s the writing on the wall in advance: New MD always means new MD. Besides, artistic search periods are tremendously draining on staff.

  • THEphilMember says:

    Haha, the sensationalism is astounding! As a member of the orchestra, I can tell you that we are nowhere close to “turmoil”! What a laugh! The orchestra is doing very well, these things happen.

  • Nick2 says:

    I would have thought there is a huge difference between providing funds for major orchestras and the day to day business of actually managing one – especially one that is self-governing. There certainly seem to be some similarities between this case with that of Mary Allen, then Secretary General of the Arts Council, who was appointed to run the Royal Opera House some 20 years ago. And we know how that little episode of cronyism ended – resignation after only a few months. Granted the circumstances around her appointment were highly controversial, but surely both cases illustrate that landlords rarely make very good tenants!

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Trouble? No. This is a golden opportunity – to cut costs.

  • Novagerio says:

    Turmoil? An orchestra? They should rejoice, now the trading lobbying might come to a momentary halt!…

  • LBS says:

    Turmoil is an apt assessment.
    As anyone who sits on one of the Philharmonia’s governing bodies knows, there has been growing concern over the current top administration.

    The Philharmonia Council and the Trust have been at loggerheads, with one of the bodies actively assessing a multitude of failures that have occurred since Helen Sprott’s appointment.

    Financially, we are on a potentially catastrophic and irreversible course. The administration has suffered from damaging and negative publicity. There have been a number of programming failures. There is distinct discord between members of the top admin team. This has all occurred over a two year period and during Helen Sprott’s tenure. Her resignation was inevitable.

    Many of us feel that new and effective leadership is desperately needed and that a general clean up of the administration is long overdue. It is dismaying to see a once great institution reduced to this.